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AUSTRALIAN SHEEP FOUND IN LOCAL MARKETS IN OMAN IN THE LEAD UP TO EID AL ADHA

Australian livestock exporters have identified Australian sheep in several local markets in Oman and exporter representatives have taken action to engage the Omani traders and the public to bring as many sheep back into approved supply chains as it can, the CEO of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council, Alison Penfold said today.

Under the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) requirements, Australian livestock must not be sold outside of approved supply chains and cannot be purchased for home slaughter or for slaughter at facilities that have not been approved as meeting international animal welfare standards.

“Exporters have Australian staff on the ground in Oman supervising the management arrangements at the main operating approved abattoir for Australian sheep over Eid al Adha but have also other Australian and locally engaged staff checking in at local markets for illegally removed sheep.

“Through this process Australian sheep have been identified and efforts are being made by relevant personnel to recover, return or at least direct the local traders and local buyers to have the sacrificial slaughter undertaken at the ESCAS approved facility Central Slaughterhouse in Muscat.

“We acknowledge that Animals Australia have also had an investigator in Oman and they have separately identified sheep on private sale by local traders at one location and this was reported to the Department on Tuesday. The report was immediately responded to with staff sent to the location to prevent further sales. Recovery and return of the sheep to Australian systems was not able to be facilitated but exporter staff have returned to the facility today to try again.”

Ms Penfold said that these incidents, while reflecting the commercial desperation of local traders to offer Australian sheep to the public, very much undermine the collaborative efforts of exporters in Oman to develop the special livestock management systems for Eid.

“This year we have further extended the use of additional supply chain control in markets like Oman. Additional restrictions on the number and manner by which Australian sheep will be available to the public has been put in place but undertaken in a manner that allows the public to practice important religious observances of Eid al Adha such as donating meat to the poor.

“Different approaches have been undertaken by the two exporters based on their own risk analyses of the various facilities.

“In Oman, one exporter has restricted sales of Australian sheep to one abattoir in Muscat to concentrate supervision and oversight of Australian sheep through this high demand 2-3 day festival period. The other exporter is operating live supervised sales out of a limited number of facilities. The main facility used by both exporters only uses the “Mecca Model” of a ticket based carcass sales system. This ticket system allows local consumers to buy tickets at one end of the facility and collect carcasses at the other. In between the only people handling and slaughtering the livestock are trained stockmen and slaughtermen who are practiced in Halal requirements and operating in abattoirs that meet the Australian ESCAS requirements.

“The Central Slaughterhouse management has run a social media campaign to encourage local Omanis to pre-order direct through them. The Muscat Daily has also run a story on the facilities on offer at the abattoir (see attached).

“There has been a genuine effort by local people in our supply chain to drive locals to get the best quality sheep slaughtered under the best halal slaughter conditions that meet international animal welfare standards.

“By no measure is this a claim by industry that we have done enough to prevent the leakage of Australian sheep but importers are working to engage the public to buy from approved facilities and where sheep are outside the system, the importer and exporter involved is attempting to get as many Australian sheep back into the controlled slaughter process.

“Exporters have reported that Australian sheep from outside the supply chain are being brought by locals to the Muscat Central slaughterhouse for slaughter so the message about the slaughter requirements for Australian sheep seems in some measure to be getting out to the public.

“Industry will review its systems at the conclusion of Eid and continue to find and implement measures that prevent Australian sheep from being removed illegally from supply chains at any time of year.

“We thank the many people who work with us to implement these systems during Eid – but we need to do more to address leakage of sheep out of approved supply chains in the pre-Eid period including collaboration with local authorities,” Ms Penfold said.

Special livestock control systems are implemented for Australian sheep in the six Middle East Australian live sheep markets, over and above ESCAS requirements, to support the traditional rite to sacrifice animals as part of the Eid Al Adha festival which will take place around the world, including in Australia, from the 24thrd to the 26th September.

Eid Mubarak

-ENDS-

Media contact: Alison Penfold – 0408 633 026 ceo@livexcouncil.com.au